Arkansas has an opportunity to dig themselves out of a three year deep hole. Marginal quarterback play has kept the Razorbacks from winning many ball games. A new season, new staff and new quarterbacks have joined the program. Feleipe Franks and Malik Hornsby are the two newest additions on the quarterback room. Those two join Redshirt sophomore John Stephen Jones, redshirt freshman K.J. Jefferson and redshirt senior walk-on Jack Lindsey. I would be completely shocked if anyone but Franks trots out as the starter and here is why... growth. The amount of maturation and development under Dan Mullen is there and you are blind if you do not see it. His ability to read through progressions, scramble to extend plays in the pocket and run downhill with reckless abandon will bode well for the Razorback offense in 2020. They
The NEED for more toughness is what Franks is very capable of bringing to lead the Hogs. Franks improved during his time as a signal caller under Mullen. The development that occurred from 2018-2019 is night and day. During the 2018 season prior to the game against South Carolina, Franks completed only 54.9% of his passes for 1490 yards, 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. A switch flipped during the week leading up to the South Carolina contest where he would go 15 for 21 with 161 yards and a touchdown. Not eye popping numbers but he was steady and did not turn the ball over. Limiting turnovers would carry on the remainder of the season as Franks did not throw another interception until Week Zero in 2019.
The closing of the 2018 season really carried over into 2019 as Franks played efficiently as a field manager and winning games. He would help lead Kentucky to a 3-0 start, passed nearly 700 yards and five touchdowns. Franks would be have a lower leg injury during the second half of the Kentucky game and missed the remainder of 2019 but he was on pace to have a career season in The Swamp. From the 2018 South Carolina game through the Kentucky game in 2019 Franks would go 117-168 (69.8%) for 1560 yards and 13 touchdowns versus only three interceptions. Mullen obviously worked his quarterback whispering waves with Franks.
Now in 2020, without Briles yet to see Franks throw a football in live action, one would presume he will be the starting quarterback. You do not go out and bring a proven SEC quarterback in if your position group is already promising. Franks had a tremendous group of receivers and running backs around him during his time at Florida. Fast forward to 2020 and living in the Ozarks, Franks could be in position to lead Arkansas to one of those old fashioned red tent revival kind of seasons.
Razorback fans pleaded each week to throw Jefferson on the field and see what happens. His first game action came against Mississippi State with a jubilant cheer from the faithful fans still in attendance. Right away Jefferson was able to “ignite” the Razorback offense and lead them on a touchdown drive. Jefferson has the ability to tuck and run while in trouble while also throwing the ball with tremendous zip. Jefferson is probably suited to be the backup this season before taking over on 2021.
Lindsey is the former walk-on of the group and was the final quarterback to start out of the carousel that was 2019. For his ranking coming out of high school, to being a true student of the game and relentlessly learning everything he needed to know about the offense he did well in his lone start. After going three for four passing, 51 yards and a touchdown late against the LSU Tigers, Lindsey earned a start against Missouri in the 2019 season finale. That game he had an average game and not many fans expected much during the cold, wet matchup. He managed the game well going 10/26, 75 yards and had a touchdown. One of those being a beautiful touch pass to receiver Trey Knox. No one expects him to be the starter but if called upon at least he has SEC game experience.
John Stephen Jones. Grandson. Legacy. What ever you may call him. Jones was definitely a baller at Highland Park as a senior. Short in stature and arm strength lower than most SEC level. In a season where the starting quarterback played terribly, the backup would come in and make a case to start the next week. Jones would come in and perform well going 6/7 for 49 yards and a touchdown drive. Under the previous regime you just shrug your shoulders, roll your eyes and look forward to the same exact outcome for the next game. Jones would go on to complete 50 percent of his passes last season for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
The Razorbacks made up a lot of ground quick during the recruiting process with Hornsby. He committed and signed during the traditional signing day in February and is believed to be the prize of the 2020 class. Working with Briles, Hornsby could be utilized in a similar way as Jefferson is. Both move with ease and have a tight zip on their throws. Hornsby comes to Arkansas a little on the thin side as most incoming freshmen do but you can expect being in a college strength and conditioning program will bid him well. When not stretching the field vertically, Hornsby can definitely run when the play breaks down. Oh, that gives me chills just thinking about it.
Pre-Practice Projected Depth Chart:
- Feleipe Franks
- K.J. Jefferson
- John Stephen Jones
- Malik Hornsby
- Jack Lindsey
Most people will be skeptical of my reasoning of having Jones ahead of Hornsby but hear me out. Hornsby will definitely redshirt this fall but expect him to go head-to-head with Jefferson for the starting spot in 2021.
Franks throws for 3000 yards, 25 touchdowns.